DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – Since taking office in January, Darlington County Sheriff Tony Chavis’ administration has worked to clean up the department. Now state officials say the office is back in compliance.
“The state put a freeze on sending Darlington County Detention Center inmates,” explained Lt. Robert Kilgo, the office’s public information officer. “At this time, they have lifted that freeze.”
Kilgo said Wednesday’s announcement by the South Carolina Department of Corrections is just another step in Sheriff Chavis’ plan for Darlington County. Last June, the DOC announced it would no longer send inmates to Darlington due to a shortage of officers.
“We have hired ten, and three start on Monday,” said Lt. Kilgo. “So as of Monday, we’ll have hired 13.”
The main goal of the hires was to become compliant with a federal law called the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). In addition to personnel, the law also requires upgrades in and around the detention center.
“The different security devices, the implementation of that to lower the risk of any sexual crimes happening in our detention facility,” Kilgo said.
Other parts of Sheriff Chavis’ plan to improve the Sheriff’s Office include upgrading an aging fleet of county vehicles.
“I looked at a car this morning that had 300,000 miles on it,” said Lt. Kilgo. “It’s unacceptable to have a car with 300,000 miles on it still be on the road, especially for a police vehicle.”
The Sheriff’s Office also invested in new protective armor for deputies, after it found some vests had expired. Other upgrades include older technology deputies still used.
“We have been able to utilize the 1033 program to get different computer equipment that’s free of charge, thus saving the taxpayers of Darlington County money,” Kilgo explained.
Lt. Kilgo said many of the issues they now face have to do with accountability.
“We came into office January 3rd,” explained Kilgo. “We cracked open the books and did inspections. Keeping up with accountability going forward, we will be able to minimize these issues.”
Above all, Lt. Kilgo said protecting Sheriff’s deputies will help them better protect the community.
“Because we’ll be able to get a lot of this crime solved before it becomes something worse, we’ll be able to prevent more,” Lt. Kilgo said.